Uncertainty in the Workplace

Happy Friday, readers! I am back to report on the first two weeks of my internship. If you missed my last post, I have begun interning with a franchise called La Casita de Inglés. This company has multiple centers in Spain that teach English to young children through fun weekly workshops.

For this week’s blog, I have been asked to reflect upon where I experience uncertainty in my internship, and my first assignment is probably the best example for this prompt. I was instructed to review a list of questions that the HR department had concerning their various procedures and to spend time answering each using prior knowledge and research. Some examples were “How can we make the hiring process more efficient?”, “What is the most effective way to assess and train our teachers?”, and “What procedures should we put in place when a teacher continuously fails to meet expectations?”

Most were easy enough to resolve, but some inquiries required more research than others. For example, the company wondered whether it is possible to advertise for people with a traditional English accent in addition to setting a fluency level requirement equivalent to “native”. Developing proper pronunciation is important when learning a new language, and La Casita de Inglés hopes to help their young students do so by hiring the right teachers. The company has been successful in attracting clients not only because of their nurturing teaching style but also because they strictly only hire teachers that speak English exceptionally well. So far, the HR department has not had any trouble assembling a diverse group of skilled staff members. However, they also do not wish for any future changes on their job postings to indirectly discourage or discriminate against new applicants.

As a rising junior with a double major in Human Resources and Marketing, the knowledge I have so far acquired is not enough to confidently answer this question. Furthermore, I am not versed in Spanish law and did not know where to start looking for the specific information I needed. Regardless, given that this was my only assignment for the week, I wanted to make a good first impression by delivering high-quality work.

The first thing I did to navigate this ambiguity was set clear expectations. After reviewing the list of questions, I let my supervisors know that I would complete the assignment to the best of my ability, but that some would need to be assessed by a professional. By doing this, I felt less pressure to come up with the perfect solution. La Casita was very understanding and agreed with my suggestion.

Next, I reached out for help. During times of uncertainty, sometimes it is helpful to ask someone you know for advice (reason #100,001 why it is so important to build a network within your field of work!). Find someone you know within your same industry and ask if they could pass along helpful publications or offer suggestions on how to approach the problem. In my case, I was able to reach out to an acquaintance who studied law in Spain, and they were nice enough to give a few off-the-record tips.

In the end, I got the answers I needed and impressed my supervisors with the amount of information I compiled. Of course, I advised La Casita that although my investigation was thorough, seeking professional legal advice would probably be best before moving forward.

Over these past two weeks, I have enjoyed learning about Spanish labor laws and best practices for the recruitment process. I find it interesting how much more detailed our U.S. laws are in comparison. In addition to working with La Casita de Inglés, this summer I am interning at the U.S. General Services Administration under USAGov and have been assisting in restructuring their online content. One of my responsibilities is to search other government websites, including outside the U.S.,  for inspiration to develop new web design concepts. I find it odd that Spain does not have a database, like USAGov, where citizens can easily access information on their rights and benefits. After this extensive research assignment, it seems as if creating one would not be such a terrible idea. Since La Casita had many inquiries about what is permitted under Spanish labor laws, I wonder how many other Spanish companies are searching for the same answers.

Next week, I have plans to fly to Madrid to visit family, friends, and hopefully meet with some of my IIP colleagues in person! I am looking forward to this trip and to writing more about my experiences later this month.